Posts Tagged ‘Rick Bayless’

Tomatillos, Salsa, and the Summer Garden

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The flavor of tomatillos  is one of the wonderful flavors of summer. This is their glory time, when the plants I have stuck into odd corners have tangled themselves throughout the rest of the bed and are making fruits, almost hidden, which are a fascinating mixture of sweet, tangy, and tart when roasted. Right now tomatillos are ripening  in their husks and I can make one of my favorite salsas. This is an old Rick Bayless recipe, modified only slightly, and couldn’t be easier or more full of flavor. Start with about 30 large tomatillos (mine were about 2 inches in diameter) or maybe 50 smaller ones. Remove husks, rinse, and set in a single layer on a baking tray covered with aluminum foil.   Put five cloves of garlic on the baking sheet off to one side where they won’t burn, still in their skins. Broil under high heat until they look cooked on the top and have black spots, turn them over, and broil until that side is cooked.

Image borrowed from no recipes.com

Image borrowed from no recipes.com

Cool a little, skin the garlic cloves, and put the tomatillos and their juices and the garlic in the food processor.  Add at least two canned chilies chipotle in adobo and their associated juice, more if you like it hot. I like 4 large chipotles in this quantity of sauce.  Grind to the degree that you prefer. I like a chunky texture.

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Now, I add the quintessentially Mexican step of frying the salsa.  In my largest skillet I heat 2 tablespoons of chosen fat, in this case fat from my homemade bacon. When the fat is hot, pour in the pureed salsa. It should sizzle furiously.  Fry it over high heat for a couple of minutes, until it has thickened to the degree that you want.  Salt to taste, and it is ready to use. The frying step smooths and blends the flavors in a delicious way. It’s good hot on grilled or smoked meat, gratineed with cheese, room temp with chips, or any way you like to eat salsa. I especially like the tangy-smoky flavor on grilled vegetables or mixed into cooked greens just before serving, or on top of them with a good sprinkling of Cotija or queso fresco. At the top of the page you see my lunch today, a little piece of leftover steak sliced and broiled with salsa and smoked cheddar on top, a fitting reward for the very minimal labor of making the salsa.

Incidentally, in the past I have grown several different kinds of tomatillos including the small purple ones that are supposed to have a more pronounced flavor, and at least under my growing conditions they all tasted pretty much the same. The small ones  are more tedious to pick and involve a great deal more labor in preparation per unit of finished salsa, and so I grow the biggest ones I can find.

The Greens of Spring: Greens Enchiladas

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This recipe makes no claims to be authentic Mexican, but it’s healthy and delicious, so enjoy it for what it is. It’s certainly in the Mexican spirit of making use of what comes along. I should mention that the idea came from Rick Bayless’s famous “greens tacos,” so thanks, Rick. I used mild and velvety blanched nettles for the greens . See my earlier post on nettles if you aren’t familiar with them.

For two servings:
6 corn tortillas
A little oil for pan-frying the tortillas
1 cup blanched mild greens; Swiss chard, spinach, mallow, nettles, or a combination.
1 pint Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa; see my  website Recipes page under “tomatoes,” or substitute your own favorite cooked salsa. Raw salsas like Pico de Gallo won’t work here.
¼ pound grated Monterey Jack cheese
¼ pound Cotija cheese (or use extra Monterey Jack for a milder flavor)
½ cup chopped cilantro

Fry the tortillas briefly, or cook them on a comal if you prefer. Set them aside. Chop the greens well, mix with 1 cup of the salsa, and heat to a full simmer, stirring frequently. Spread ¼ of the greens mixture on each of two tortillas, and scatter a bit of cilantro over. Top each with another tortilla, and spread with the rest of the greens mixture and sprinkle on a little more cilantro. Top each stack with one of the remaining tortillas, spread the tops and any exposed edges of the stacks with the rest of the salsa, and top with a mixture of the two cheeses or just with shredded Monterey Jack. Bake at 400 degrees until hot and the cheese is melted. You can brown it briefly under the broiler, if you wish. Serve garnished with the remaining cilantro.
This makes a wonderful lunch or light supper. For a more filling dinner, top each stack with a fried egg. Good with beer.
In the picture above, some calendula petals are scattered around with the cilantro. They don’t have much flavor, but add a lovely sunny color.